Once upon a time, natives and visitors alike would’ve balked at the suggestion of London as a world foodie mecca. ‘Just fish’n’chips and fry-ups isn’t it?’, they would laugh. Those days are well and truly gone; London’s capital is thriving with culinary delights, teeming with ingredients from every corner of the globe and best of all, home to a population who pride themselves on vast knowledge of wonderful food. Here you’ll find an army of these hungry citizens heading out, each and every day of the week, with a shopping list full of intriguing items. Whether you’re seeking the best cut of beef money can buy, the freshest off the boat fish or something a little more esoteric (carambola anyone?), it’s all in London. So, with all that in mind and a hunger to be satisfied in our belly, here are 10 IDEAL food markets in London.
Borough Market – London Bridge SE1
The big one. Borough is a market of international repute, dating back more than 1000 years and stocking some of the finest produce the city has to offer. It’s no surprise that discerning nearby restaurants stock their shelves, walk-ins and larders here. Fresh fruit and vegetables are at their brightest and most inviting in Borough Market, with fervent traders broadcasting their merits and extolling their virtues.
More premium products abound too; Borough Market is one of the largest stall-based purveyors of truffles, and there’s plenty of great charcuterie to get stuck into. Visit hungry, as you can feast on nibbles and freebies while you peruse. All of this adds up to a cracking day under shelter, and that’s before we mention the prepared food stalls. There are loads. Of globetrotting variety; all frying, sizzling, bubbling and more as you pass, aromas inviting you in. One thing is for certain here, you’ll leave with both stomach and hands full. Oh, and with an empty wallet (it’s not cheap).
Mercato Metrapolitano – Elephant and Castle SE1
A new addition (2016) to the old-as-time-itself London market landscape, Mercato Metrapolitano is a different proposition to many of the more well-established, traditional places on our list. The proposition is more continental – Italian in fact – and is one of artisanal producers and sublime little food stalls, all housed around a central eating ‘square’. It calls to mind New York’s Eataly, and that’s no bad thing.
Broadway Market – Hackney E8
Okay, so Broadway Market has more of a reputation for fashion. Indeed, it’s the place for fashionistas to be seen in East London, but that doesn’t mean the fine food here should be given short shrift. The location, alongside Regent’s Canal, makes it the perfect place to spend a Saturday, and we’d highly recommend the superb Vietnamese coffee from Ca Phe VN as you gear up for an afternoon on the harder stuff. And by harder stuff we mean the excellent chorizo scotch eggs from Eat My Pies, leading into Makatcha’s beef rendang. Followed by some gout. Lovely.
Brixton Village and Market Row – Brixton SW9
Brixton Village is a beating heart of the famous area, just a 5 minute walk from the tube stop and home to over 100 independant traders. The space combines the traditional assumption of a market (fresh fish stalls, butchers….) with hip, groovy little restaurants and cafes. It’s testament to the influence of the market that countrywide conquerors Honest Burger and Franca Manca originated under the Village’s roof. We love how the market stays true to Brixton’s soul; it’s multicultural and inclusive. We don’t love the rumours that Mike Ashley (of Sports Direct notoriety) is considering buying it.
Brick Lane Market – E1
Brick Lane is world renowned for its curries and spicy food, but did you know that it also has a fantastic market, spanning across several global cuisines and streets in the area? Visit on a Sunday to experience the event in full swing, with wares peddled and bargains to be unearthed. It’s chaotic, bustling and utterly charming. On any other day of the week, the famous restaurants are still open, serving their aromatic, heady offerings. Oh and if you like street art, look out Belgian street artist Roa’s graffiti of a crane on a building in Brick Lane. The crane is sacred to the Bengali people and is a nod to Tower Hamlets’ rich history of welcoming different immigrant populations and of course, Bengali food, which Brick Lane is famous for.
A weekly affair, Lewisham’s Brockley Market offers local produce from artisans of the area, and has racked up some serious award based recognition in the process. The meat and poultry suppliers are of particular merit, so if you’re looking to elevate the following day’s roast, cast eyes no further. What most people come here for, above all else, is the Motherflipper; a city-famous burger joint only found at Brockley. This glazed bun and succulent patty, alone, is worth the trip.
Netil Market – Hackney E8
Close to the previously mentioned Broadway Market, but less packed with peacocking young fashion students, Netil Market operates weekly on Saturdays and at a slower, more manageable pace. This is where Bao earned its cult following, and still has a stall here to this day. Reason enough, we think, to get amongst it.
Shepherd’s Bush Market
Just a short distance away from Westfield shopping centre, Shepherd’s Bush market is a world apart in every sense. Famous for fabrics, falafel and fresh food, it’s a multicultural affair where you’ll find a large range of ethnic foodstuffs; Indian, Caribbean, African and Polish, to name but a few. Stalls packed with fragrant spices bring Marrakech’s souks to mind, while yams, coconuts, cassava, okra, falafel, mangoes and some lesser easy to source fish (red tilapia for instance) are also abundant. It’s a delight for foodies, with a lively music scene providing a soundtrack to your sojourn. If you’re staying at one of Shepherd’s Bush hotels, then it is has to be worth a visit.
Okay, maybe Billingsgate isn’t the place for a leisurely afternoon stroll and some falafel, but boy, is it fun. The market has the largest selection of freshly caught fish available in the U.K, and supplies top restaurants in London and beyond. It’s also open to the public. Get here early, as trade starts well before sunrise (Tuesday to Saturday) and find yourself immersed in an extraordinary spectacle.
Maltby Market – Bermondsey SE16
Every weekend a lumber storage space in Bermondsey transforms into Maltby Market, with railway arches playing host to some fantastic food in a manner London does so well. St. John’s Bakery is a must; try one of their delectable doughnuts and take home some awesome sourdough, and Maltby & Greek does some of the best Greek food in London. Enough said.